Wednesday’s Rugby News sees the Brumbies gear up for a finals push, a key Rebel ruled out, further criticism for Eddie and an unusual call to arms for an international team
Brumbies galloping towards finals push
The Brumbies are looking to pull off a Mission Impossible style push to the finals when their Super Rugby season recommences against the Hurricanes on Saturday.
The international break has left the ACT side raring and ready to jump out of the barriers, with most of the side enjoying the month-long break, whilst the majority of their Wallaby contingent received minimal game time during the three test series against Ireland.
While Scott Sio and David Pocock were integral parts of the Wallabies’ June campaign, Joe Powell played just 20 minutes and Allan Alaalatoa was out injured, with Rory Arnold, Folau Faingaa, Tom Banks and Tevita Kuridrani playing no part.
“It’s the first time the squad has been back together since that Sunwolves week and we’re really excited to be back together and training as a team,” captain Sam Carter said.
“(Rory Arnold) is in great shape, Folau hasn’t played since the Bulls game, obviously Tevita, Banksy (didn’t play), Joey Powell got some minutes on the weekend but all the added experience and having the team back together – we’re really excited for this weekend.”
Whilst not mathematical out of the finals equation, the Brumbies face a tough run home with Rugby Vision rating their chances as less than 0.1%.
This is due to an incredibly tough run home, with the side having to facing away trips against the Chiefs and Waratahs after Saturday’s clash with the Hurricanes.
“It’s always tough this time of year to come back into Super Rugby after the June internationals,” Carter said.
“Every game is important but playing the Hurricanes at home – last time we played the Hurricanes at home we went down in the final last year…We have been focusing on this game for four weeks now”
“We’ve done a review and we’re looking forward to getting out there and playing as a squad again.”
King Cole ruled out of Waratahs clash
Adam Coleman has been ruled out for the Rebels clash against the Waratahs with an abductor strain.
The Rebels have once again paid a high price for the Wallabies’ Test series against Ireland with Coleman injuring his abductor muscle in the third Test. This follows an injury to scrum-half Will Genia, who broke his arm during the second test.
This is awful news for the Rebels, who would have fancied their chances in the top of the conference clash against the Waratahs, who will be missing Michael Hooper and possibly Israel Folau for the contest.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels was still confident in his side’s ability to win, pointing to their efforts in the earlier parts of the season when they played without Genia and Coleman.
“I feel for Will but [when Will was injured] my wife said to me that I didn’t seem too fussed – it’s a contact sport and those things happen,” Wessels said.
“Mikey [Ruru] is playing pretty well for us and we have won three on the trot, four if you include the Western Force game. We have a lot of confidence in Mike and while we feel for Will, we will see him later in the season hopefully.”
Wessels said he was yet to select a replacement for Coleman, with Matt Philip, English import Geoff Parling, utility forward Ross Haylett-Petty and Sam Jeffries vying for the two starting roles.
“All those guys are pretty well established Super Rugby players so we are blessed with a bit of depth there,” Wessels said.
Coleman is hopeful of a return next week while Rebels star Number 8 Amanaki Mafi is also expected to take his spot against the Waratahs after playing for Japan.
Poms still whingeing about Jones
England great Jeremy Guscott is the latest to join the chorus, warning coach Eddie Jones will have to change his ways if England are going to have a chance of winning the World Cup next year.
Jones has been criticised for a supposedly autocratic management style, with Bath owner Bruce Craig questioning a gruelling training camp regime he says that leaves players too exposed to the risk of injury.
Guscott has written in a BBC Sport column that Jones needs to make adjustments and has to realise some of those adjustments are with himself, not simply in how his team plays.
“Eddie always tries to set the narrative when he talks to the media, but in reality the game sets the narrative” said Guscott.
“There is the old saying ‘engage the brain before opening the mouth’ and he needs to do this sometimes. He needs to stop battling the press and when they ask silly questions, ignore them. It’s not clever to tell the media he’s left 25 players behind in England.”
Guscott also said Jones had made a mistake in not playing fly-half Danny Cipriani from the start of the South Africa series.
“Eddie Jones made a mistake not playing Danny Cipriani in the first Test in Johannesburg. The fast track would have suited him, he’d have loved it out there and it was the wrong decision to leave him out.”
He was also heavily critical of Owen Farrell for acting like a child after Cipriani put a grabber kick in for Jonny May’s decisive try.
“Farrell’s reaction to that kick has been talked about a lot since Saturday. He turned away looking frustrated when Cipriani kicked the ball into the corner – but Danny didn’t have much choice.”
“As a captain, Farrell should not be doing that and as a player, he should have been chasing the ball.”
Despite this criticism, Guscott had some nice things to say about Jones, crediting him for the job he did in brining English rugby back from the dead.
“Eddie came to our union when it was at its lowest ebb after the World Cup. He grabbed it and took us on this extraordinary run.”
“He has tremendous credit at the union for what he’s done … We’ve had a reversal, which now hopefully we’ve sprung out of.”
Samoan PM gives weird ulitematum to team
In the weirdest story of the week so far, the Samoan Prime Minister has decided to lay into his national team after a string of poor performances.
After a disappointing run of defeats, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi turned up at training and told the players that they should quit if they can’t beat Germany.
“You played 10 games and you lost in all of those 10 games, so what does that tell me? ‘You have no guts.’ That is what I said to them,” Malielegaoi said. “I said, if you don’t win this game then you all have to resign from the team.”
The Prime Minister continued his criticism, saying that the players kept dropping the ball because they were “afraid”. Samoa have not yet qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, needing to beat Germany on aggregate over the next two weeks to secure their spot in the tournament.
During a weekly media session later in the day, the prime minister was calmer and predicted a Samoa win over the Germans, who he believed have limited knowledge about the sport.
“The reason being is because we have reached the very bottom and there is nowhere else for us to go except coming back up,” he said. “They will be playing against the team that has no knowledge whatsoever on how to play rugby, so we must win this game.”
“And the other good thing about this is that when we win against Germany and make it through the World Cup, we will be in a good pool. So I would be very shocked if we don’t make it to the quarter-final.”
Although it has been a long fall for the team since their successes that Samoa have in the past 10 years, notably against Australia in 2011, this criticism seems a bit over the top and unnecessary.
Reading this story I could only imagine what Malcolm Turnbull would have to say in the same situation. With his luck and knowledge of Australian teams in the past, I’m sure he would wish Mile Hooper and the Rugbyroos the best of luck at the World Cup*.
*Disclaimer: I know Turnbull is a rugby union man, having played for Sydney Uni in the past so I’m sure he would get it correct………..surely